We’ve all seen them. They drive the right cars. Wear the right clothes. Say all the right words. On the surface, they have all of the trappings that you would attribute to someone that has ‘made it.’ Unfortunately, more often than not, it’s a façade.
I’m sure after reading that, many of you have unconsciously identified someone in your life that fits the description perfectly. If not, chances are it could be the person staring back at you when you brush your teeth in the morning.
(After re-reading that sentence, I can see how it could come across a little creepy – definitely not my intention. I meant it could be you – because hopefully you’re the only person staring back while brushing your teeth. Otherwise that would be really weird…)
I’m not sure where the whole ‘fake it – till you make it’ phenomenon originated but I wish that it would crawl back in its rightful place between the song ‘Let it Go’ (sorry Frozen fans) and ‘Y.O.L.O.’ in the annals of history to never be spoken of again. Although I’m sure the author of the phrase had the purest of intentions, this philosophy has led to the financial detriment of millions.
To be fair, I can understand the psychological aspect of the argument that says “if you put on an air of confidence and assert that you’re a bit better than you actually are at the moment, you will project success and that will ultimately lead you to achieve success.” While the general premise may be harmless, as with many things, the devil is in the details.
If you were to ask a random person on the street to give their definition of a successful person, I would be willing to wager that majority of the responses would center on appearance and/or material items. This is just a reality of the society that we live in. Unfortunately, projecting success for many of us means running up credit card debt in an attempt to craft a certain image by the clothes that we wear. For others it could be financing that entry-level luxury vehicle or buying a home in that particular neighborhood, because that’s what will help us look the part.
It’s all a sham and it’s this type of thinking that really hinders financial success. When it comes to your finances, ‘Faking it – till you make it’ is essentially trading your anticipated future earnings for the opportunity to look the part today. To further complicate matters, there is no guarantee that simulating success today translates into actual success tomorrow.
Let’s play devil’s advocate for a second and say that you did finally reach a level of success after faking it for a few years. During those years of playing the game, you’ve gone the typical route; bought ‘power suits’ on credit and financed vehicles to emulate the successful attributes that you desire. Needless to say, you’ve racked up significant debt but hey, you’re finally in the corner office. Now that you’ve made it, you can’t just stop ‘looking’ the part. The spending will likely increase due to lifestyle inflation and soon the only view that you’ll see from that corner office window, is your mountain of debt.
It’s a vicious cycle that you’re better off not getting swept away by.
While it is possible that looking the part can help boost your confidence and that, may in turn, lead to certain opportunities. Doing so at the risk of your financial stability is folly.
The odds are NOT in your favor.
What are your thoughts? Do you buy into the Fake it till you make it philosophy? Let’s chat. Join the conversation!
Before I forget –
The idea for this came after reading a post titled: Buying-in To Our Personal Narrative on the blog Money After Graduation. Although the post was not about ‘Faking it until you make it’ – per se, it got the wheels turning for me about why we make the purchases that we make, which in a roundabout way, led me to write this post. (As a side note, when you get a moment…check out some of the other post on the MAG site – Bridget is a fantastic writer).